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‘Go cup’ zone for alcoholic beverages being planned before law goes into effect

 

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez has started the process to establish a downtown “go cup” zone for alcoholic beverages.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a bill earlier this year expanding last year’s law that allowed the designation of leisure and recreation districts where open containers sold by certain businesses would be permitted off premises. The expanded bill includes Natchez and other cities.

The bill was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in April and will go into effect July 1.

Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, led the effort to have Natchez included in this year’s bill, saying he thinks it will have a positive effect on tourism.

City Planner Riccardo Giani said he and Tourism Director Jennifer Ogden Combs began work last week to draft an ordinance with rules and regulations as it relates to the go-cup law and create a map of the boundaries of the leisure and recreation district.

Giani said he and Combs would attend meetings with business owners to see which businesses are interested in being included in the district.

Giani said the city would need to determine if the district was to be concentrated in one area of downtown or span the entire downtown area.

Participating businesses will likely have 12- to 16-oz. transparent cups with a logo or sticker on it, as well as signage directing patrons to designated areas and to not loiter and trash cans on the outside of establishments, Giani said.

The city has received help in planning to create the leisure and recreation district, Giani said, from Ocean Springs, which was included in the first round of cities approved for the go-cup zones in 2016.

Giani said he and Combs expect to have a plan to implement ready to present to the Natchez Board of Aldermen soon, so the new district could be established before the law goes into effect on July 1.

The city will host a public hearing on the matter prior to a vote by the aldermen, Giani said.

The ordinance and map would need to be approved by the board of aldermen then sent to the Mississippi Department of Revenue for final approval.

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